A great way to get kids excited about playing outside is to let them engage in friendly battles and competitive games with their friends using some of the great projectile toys that are available now. There’s a huge variety to choose from, including foam dart blasters, rubber band launchers, water blasters, and water balloons. All of these products are designed and manufactured with safety in mind, so kids can have a good time without worrying about hurting each other.
Running and dodging around playground battlefields can provide a lot of entertainment and exercise for kids in the fresh air and sunshine. Have you equipped your kids so they can join in the fun and compete to be king of the hill on the neighborhood playground?
Water balloons provide a great way to cool down on a hot summer day. Whether you want to play a competitive game of catch to be the last person not to get wet, or wildly chuck them at each other for a totally soaked water balloon fight, Bunch O Balloons from ZURU makes the filling and tying process a breeze, thanks to the patented, water-fill technology. Simply connect a bundle of Bunch O Balloons to a garden hose or faucet, let the water flow, and shake when they are full. Within 60 seconds you’ll have yourself 100 self-sealed water balloons.
Another nice way to cool off during the summer is getting drenched in a water blaster battle. Prime Time Toys released a great new line of water blasters that are perfect for active outdoor play. The Adventure Force line of water blasters features several versions to choose from, but I recommend The Super Storm! It can project water an amazing 38 feet through an easy-to-use pump action feature. It also has a storage tank that holds more than half a gallon of water, so it doesn’t constantly need to be refilled. The Super Storm also has a switchable nozzle, allowing three different options for spraying people: Super Soak Blast, Long-Range, and Quad-Stream. The latter simultaneously directs four streams of water at your target.
FOAM DART BLASTERS
Don’t want to get wet? Have some fun with foam dart battles instead! Prime Time Toys’ Dart Zone Blasters provide a variety of options. Choose from light-weight, short-range blasters, to long-range, multi-dart projectile launchers. My kids’ favorite is the motorized Enforcer Belt Blaster, which can launch in rapid succession 40 foam darts in under 30 seconds up to a distance of 80 feet away.
For children who enjoy tinkering, K’NEX‘s K-Force Build and Blast line allows kids to construct their own dart blasters. The 201-piece set allows kids to construct four variations of the toy as well as build a target to play with. K’NEX KFORCE BUILD AND BLAST comes with its own foam darts that kids can launch up to 75 feet from a five-shot rotating chamber. There are twelve building sets to choose from, including a crossbow, motorized blaster, and double draw duel blaster target shooting completion kit. These building sets will get kids thinking about engineering and mechanics adding an educational element to the play experience.
RUBBER BAND LAUNCHERS
The Precision RBS (Rubber Band System) Hyperion from Super Impulse is great for target shooting. It can hit a target from up to 50 feet away with pinpoint accuracy. Load it with different band sizes to adjust from hitting short-range to long-distance targets. It also features a blast feature, which launches 14 bands at the same time. However, make sure to only give these to older kids, and encourage kids to only shoot at inanimate targets, as the rubber bands can potentially sting upon impact.
The value in using rubber bands as part of a projectile toy is that because they aren’t rigid. The bands collapse and distribute their energy along their entire length lessening the force of impact. They also float with a flat trajectory which provides them with better accuracy than foam darts or ball-shaped projectiles. For a bit of STEM learning, encourage your children to look up the Lariat and Magnus effects of physics. They can get a better understanding of how rubber bands soar through the air.
IMPORTANT SAFETY TIPS
While projectile toys present a minimal risk of hurting someone, they can potentially cause an injury if used improperly or recklessly. Here are a few safety tips to keep in mind:
- Abide by the age recommendations listed on the toy. If the packaging says 8+, don’t give the toy to a 4 year old to play with.
- Eye injuries are the most likely resulting from these toys. Always wear eye protection when interacting with other people. You can find affordable safety glasses or goggles that will work just fine at your local hardware store. We have some kept in the garage the kids use when playing with their foam dart blasters and rubber band launchers. These are the same ones I also wear when weed-whipping around the yard.
- Stress the importance of never shooting at someone’s face or throat with a projectile toy. Make sure children understand how that could result in an injury. Take the toy away from a child immediately if they are caught breaking this rule and reinforce with them what they did was wrong.
- Avoid misfires by keeping your finger off the trigger until you are ready to launch a projectile. Keep the toy unloaded until it is ready to be played with. Never look down the barrel of a launcher even if you think it is not loaded.
- Have a discussion about the difference between a toy and a real weapon. Make sure children understand guns are not things to be played with and can be deadly. Use a projectile toy as an opportunity to have a positive conversation about gun responsibility and safety with a child.
- Never shoot at animals, as that can cause wild ones to become aggravated and aggressive toward you, or cause pets to lose their trust in humans.
If you are looking for a way to get kids playing outside, consider picking up some projectile toys. Whether it is a game of water balloon toss, a target shooting competition or a foam dart battle, kids are sure to have a lot of fun.
Which of these toys do you think would be your kid’s favorite to play with?